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Author Topic: Fallen brethren bones  (Read 145 times)

Description: Stela

Offline Artur Woden

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Fallen brethren bones
« on: Apr 06, 19, 11:58:33 PM »
When Arbiter reported that she'd completed the terms of her contract, Artur wanted to drop everything he was doing and attend to the matter of the Merceanu box. It would answer his question, once and for all, about whether Wolf was alive or dead. Yet it wouldn't do to rush. If he looked like he cared (at least, more than the vague interest of an employee of the Hegemon) it would arouse Arbiter's interest. He preferred when his niece had her attentions focused in directions beyond her uncle's little foibles. Right now, he was playing a lot of cards slightly further from his chest than he was strictly comfortable with. Why take a risk? The Hegemon sent a confirmation, and set a date for the handoff some two weeks into the future.

On that day--being sensitive to Stela's difficulty with vanishing objects--he met her in the same disused altar on the Court grounds as before. A man with Artur Woden's face and Jewels was standing Artur's usual watch as Duncan settled onto one of the pews, slouched forward and contemplated the candelabra on the altar before him. It looked better cared for than last time. No doubt it was Stela or the Licht girl's influence that turned a near-abandoned altar into something actually palatable. Hopefully, Stela had managed to arrange relative privacy for the meeting as well. She was the one with influence here, especially when Duncan was pretending at being Broken.

"The Hegemon says you have something for me," he said when he heard the door close behind her. "Did you find the box?"


Offline Stela Petrescu

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Re: Fallen brethren bones
« Reply #1 on: Apr 07, 19, 01:03:07 AM »
She’d managed to get the key from Sebastian’s house and guilt ate at her in the days after her daring heist. She genuinely cared for the Bane family. They deserved to be happy. They deserved to be left out of the endless drama that was the Territory Court and the squabbles that made most Aristos deserving of being humbled regarding their station in life. She’d taken the key and returned to the palace, making the plan to take the key and check the Merceanu cabinet in Sebastian’s office. She’d waited a full day before heading down there, to coincide with providing her reports. She’d taken her violin, with the intended excuse that she would go and see Lady Bane that day, before heading to Sebastian’s office.

No one questioned her presence there anymore, not really. His assistant was just glad to see that Stela hadn’t given up her volunteer duties simply because Sebastian was on family leave. She’d asked Stela to watch her desk while she ran off to get a form signed that morning, a task that Stela was all too happy to do. The office that she needed was a few minutes away, leaving Stela to her own devices for several minutes.

She went for the cabinet the moment the woman rounded the corner.

Stela disabled the wards on Sebastian’s office door and slipped inside. She opened the Merceanu cabinet and located her quarry instantly. The box wasn’t as ornate as she expected, but that didn’t matter. She fished the second key, the one given to her by Duncan, out of her pocket and slid it into the lock. Placing her hand on top of the box to keep it from opening, Stela gave it a single turn to make sure that the key and the box matched.

They did. Stela breathed a sigh of relief.

She was told not to open it, so she didn’t, despite the curiosity that now burned inside her. What was all of this about? Had Sebastian stumbled on a secret that could cost him his life? When Duncan was involved it was a distinct possibility. The lone comfort that Stela had here was that Duncan had lost both of his jewels in the Decimation. He’d be better off hiring a Myos to dispatch Sebastian Bane…

Stela shivered at the thought.

A Myos would kill Amaranth and Elisabeth as willingly as they’d murder Sebastian. Even if they didn’t, Stela refused to let a little girl grow up without her father. Lie. Say you never found it. Failing the Hegemon would destroy her career as a Shaos. She’d be stuck with shit jobs from the rest of her life, if she wasn’t kicked out of the Shaos Guild altogether. This job would prove to the Hegemon that she could deliver when it counted. Gabriella needed a successful Shaos in her Court, even if she didn’t know that she had one.

In the end, the choice was clear.

Stela locked the box and removed the key, replacing it in her pocket. Then she took the box and placed it inside the case of her violin before returning to the assistant’s desk. She’d only been sitting down for a minute or so when the woman came back with the signed form, thanking her profusely for standing in. With that, Stela picked up her violin case and returned to her room, then worked to set up the meeting between herself and Duncan.

The longest two weeks of Stela’s life passed while she went about her daily business and prayed that today was not the day that Sebastian realized that something was amiss and came looking for her. She wrote letters to Gabriella. She talked to Nick. She spent time working with Prince Mercer on her other contract and generally avoided Lady Roman unless the need was great.

The night before her appointment, she went to the altar and cleaned it from top to bottom. She prayed to the Darkness that she wasn’t making a major mistake. She prayed for courage. She prayed for serenity.Mostly she prayed to Mother Night and sank deep into the well of her power, letting the currents of the Darkness ebb and flow around her while she released her worries and pain to the Darkness.

The following day, she carried her violin case to the altar, once again ignoring Lord Cosovei and heading out to the altar to meet Duncan. She entered and found Duncan waiting inside. Her skin crawled beneath her clothes. He’d lost his Opal and his Red. She could kill him, finally, and avenge herself. She could make sure no one found his body. Even as she imagined it, her mind listed ten reasons that it wouldn’t work.

She closed the door behind her and entered the altar.

I have it. The key fits the lock, but it remains unopened.” Stela said, stepping forward.

She set the violin case down the pew, unclasped the locks, and lifted the lid. Inside, the box from the Merceanu cabinet sat waiting. Stela produced the key he’d given her all those months ago and extended her hand for him to take it.

At the risk of being told absolutely nothing...what’s in the box?






Offline Artur Woden

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Re: Fallen brethren bones
« Reply #2 on: Apr 07, 19, 01:27:23 AM »
The box was such a tiny thing. How it'd found its way into the hands of Sebastian Bane Duncan was sure he'd never know, though he was glad that it had. The one man who would hold on to a strange box his benighted mother left him in the city, perhaps in the Territory... if Sebastian hadn't kept it, who knew where it may have ended up. He took the key from Stela and the box from the case. "The Hegemon believes that it holds proof that a Myos guildsman abandoned his post," said Duncan. The key fit into its hole smooth as butter, and when he twisted it, the mechanism turned with a nearly-inaudible click.

His heart raced as he opened the box. If it was empty, if he'd done all this for nothing... put himself at risk for nothing, threatened members of the Myos guild for nothing... But the box opened smoothly on its hinges, and within was exactly what he'd expected. Duncan pulled free a bundle of heavy cloth that stank of old blood and ashes, closed the box and set it aside. He unwrapped the stiff, red-stained fabric in his lap and looked at the contents of the bundle.

Four masks. He recognized each of them. The feathered, delicate one that still hummed with Green power was once the mask of a young Myos known as Nevermore. Beside it, a black domino dangling Yellow Jewel chips--each of them dead and empty of power--that he had seen conferred upon a young man called Milord, and the white domino that had been Milady's. Her White Jewel chips were dull with death, too. But the last one, the largest one, with its mirrored glass eye-pieces and heavy oiled-leather fabric, was unenchanted but for one small Red chip that still burned with fire.

He swallowed, heavily. Maria Eldin lived. Umbral's predecessor, one of his own trainers, lived. They'd all mourned Kristiane's betrayal, wondered where Maria's body had gone after the fire, but they'd been so sure that the old man was dead.

Such strength of emotion was foreign to him. Oh, he'd hated his brother, hadn't mourned his death for the virulent strength of his hatred. He loved Tatiana, loved Darcia, so much that he would have killed for either of them. But Maria Eldin had been a brother, a man that Duncan had loved in a way he hadn't cared for either of the two mentors who had brought him up from his troubled path. There'd been something comforting about the older Myos, something paternal and soft, especially as the years ticked on and the Myos Executioner had run down, his actions and his regrets catching up to him.

There was a spot of wetness on the mask, twin tear-tracks on Duncan's cheeks, and he wiped them away hurriedly before pulling the chip of Red from the mask and bundling them all away. They were small enough, he estimated, to fit into a Jewelless man's psychic cabinet, and so he vanished them with Basic Craft alone. "Have you learned to use blood magic to track the owner of a Jewel," he asked, holding the chip of Red up to the light. It was barely the size of his pinky nail, and so thin that he could almost see through it. Could have, if not for the fire that told him that its owner was alive and well. "The Hegemon may have more work for you, if you have. If not, then..."

It was very tempting to simply drop the shard and let it be lost in the altar. But Duncan knew which side of his bread was buttered, and Maria Eldin signed his own death warrant the day he didn't return to the Myos.


Offline Stela Petrescu

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Re: Fallen brethren bones
« Reply #3 on: Apr 07, 19, 02:16:35 AM »
Stela was a little surprised that Duncan actually told her on the first request. Proof that a Myos Guildsman abandoned his post? There was so much loaded into that statement that Stela turned a way, needing a moment to gather her thoughts. The uninformed believed that guild membership was a lifetime thing, changed only when a guildsman or guildswoman returned to the Darkness. It was patent bullshit, but there was also no reason to let the unwashed masses know the truth. Some people did leave the Guilds. Some even left of their own volition.

None of them left without paying a Price.

Stela was fascinated by the contents of the box, but even more intrigued by Duncan’s reaction to those contents. They held sentimental value to him, evidenced by the tears. She’d never seen him cry. She didn’t think he was capable of crying before this moment. Those tears humanized him. They made him seem like a regular person.

She cursed at herself, mentally. No. How dare he shed tears over this when he’d murdered his own brother in a rage? When he’d burned her life to the ground without so much as an I’m sorry.

No.

Fuck this and fuck him.

The Hegemon believes that this proves that a Myos abandoned his post...but you’re sitting here feeling bad about this? Is this proof of life?” Stela asked, not certain that she understood it. He knew whoever these masks belonged to. Or at least some of these people. Anger swirled beneath her skin, heating her blood. She did not want to see him crying. She didn’t want to see him looking sad and hurt, looking like someone in need of sympathy. She turned her attention to the masks themselves and the pieces of jewels. The Yellow and White jewels were clearly pieces that had long since died with their owners. She recalled how Cezar’s jewels had looked when she found his body, how they were darker and less vibrant than, say, Gabriella’s.

But that sliver of Red was still alive and that...that was unnerving. If there was a Red Jeweled Myos out there who’d left his post, Stela was nervous about who would go and remind said person of their commitment. She was even more nervous about said person realizing that Sebastian had their possessions...and now those possessions were in the hands of another.

I’ve been introduced to the Craft.” she said. “But it’s not something that I get to practice very often. I’ve yet to meet anyone living that was fool enough to leave pieces of their jewels lying around to be tracked.” Stela said.

But if the Hegemon wants this Myos found, I'll brush up.” Stela said.

She fell silent for a moment as a thought crossed her mind. It was a stupid idea. A terrible idea. How many people had asked this question and been laughed off? Worse, how many people had asked this question and regretted the answer they received? Well, she’d just put herself in the crosshairs of a few powerful people to get this done for the Hegemon. She’d delivered. She had the right to ask, at least.

I’ve done my part, Uncle. I brought you what you asked for. I followed your directions. I delivered.” she said.

I want to be more than just another name to him. I want to meet him. Can you make that happen, Uncle?” Stela asked.






Offline Artur Woden

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Re: Fallen brethren bones
« Reply #4 on: Apr 07, 19, 03:09:37 AM »
Duncan looked away from the chip of Red Jewel. If Stela could do the Craft, he could keep Raluca and the rest of the Shaos out of it entirely. If he had to involve Masque or Rade, then it was a matter of time before he'd be made to involve Striker, and... He knew the man was capable, but was he capable against Wolf? He wouldn't want to go up against a man who had once been the Myos Executioner, even if Maria had let his skills rust. Right now, even Keels didn't suspect the trail that Duncan was following. The only ones who knew were Stela, Umbral, and Fiend... outside of Duncan himself, of course. Limiting the spread of information was the best way to keep a secret, in his experience. Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. That was a lesson from Wolf, too. Right after The way to a man's heart is through the ribs: use thin knives.

He listened to her even as he ruminated upon the lessons the old man taught him, the strangely simple mask. How many Myos had complex, Craft-based designs? Maria hadn't held with it, despite his Dark Jewels that could've powered a hundred of the most complex masks. Just the fume-hood for him, mildly enchanted against being knocked off his face by another hand. "This proves he's alive, yes," said Duncan. "I knew each of them. Nevermore, Milady, her partner Milord, and..." He held up the fume hood. "Wolf. I thought they'd all died." It was an odd name for a Myos. Much more of a Jacks name, something so blunt as an animal codename... Myos codenames trended along the role-descriptors. Ravager, Striker, the Pugilist. "He was... a friend."

More than a friend. A father surrogate.

Even as Duncan sorted through his response--if Stela believed that she could do it, he'd give her the chip of Red and see how close to the chest he could play this hand--Stela made another demand. He couldn't lie and say he hadn't seen it coming, but at the moment, he didn't feel the need to dance around it anymore. If it got out that the Hegemon was Broken, then he'd know to cut his losses before Stela learned anything more sensitive. "Stela," he sighed. "I am the Hegemon. How did you imagine I knew the moment you attempted to contract a Shaos to tell you about me? You know the Shaos don't work that way."

Surely she'd understood he was more than a runner for the Hegemon...?


Offline Stela Petrescu

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Re: Fallen brethren bones
« Reply #5 on: Apr 07, 19, 04:16:04 AM »
Stela, I am the Hegemon.

She’d been so sure that Reader had sold her out. Or that Duncan had hired him first and paid him to play this long-term joke on her, just to humiliate her and prove that there was nothing she could do that he wouldn’t always know about. But she’d been Shaos long enough to know how it worked and Duncan was right: it didn’t work that way. She recalled, now, Actuary’s reaction when she said she was working for the Hegemon.

She’d always wondered why the Hegemon had chosen her--her--out of so many promising agents, so many candidates with greater skill or with darker jewels. Why had the Hegemon chosen her for a task that he could have given to anyone.

Stela sat down in the pew as hard truth settled into the pit of her stomach like a rock.

You set my course from the beginning.” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. Tears fell. Once her father was dead and she had nowhere else to go (her mother’s family was fucking worthless), she’d have no choice but to follow whatever path he put in front of her. Of course, she’d never have done it if he’d asked. Or commanded. She’d tried to run away twice when she was younger and he’d foiled the plan before she got more than a mile from his home. But if he put the breadcrumbs down and she ate them on her own...oh, he could get her to do anything he wanted. He could build himself an agent who’d go out of her way to prove herself because it fed into her desire to belong and the abandonment issues she clearly suffered through.

He must have laughed himself sick at how well he made her dance to his tune.

Well, I should have asked for something harder to get.” she said, her face in her hands. He could never know about Gabriella. Stela would never let him use her this way. She’d never let him do to her sister what he’d done to her.

She dragged her hands down her face. Forget it. No matter what he’d done, she was still Shaos. She’d completed all of her missions on her own merit, with her own skills. He could not take those accomplishments from her. He could not take her people away from her. He could not take Gabriella from her.

She wiped away her tears.

Four Myos. Three of them are dead. I don’t suppose that this one had anything to do with the others?” she asked.

Whether or not he did is irrelevant. Your friend is flouting guild law. He’s alive. This was just confirmation for you, so you suspected it enough to start looking in the first place. Walk me through the next step in this plan.” she said. She didn’t want to get involved in a Myos Guild issue but...she was now involved by dint of knowing that one of their members was alive and needed to be located.

Either he returns and submits to punishment...or he dies. You can’t go after him now. A Red Jeweled Myos who probably doesn’t want to be found will end you and maybe anyone you send after him, especially if he sees you coming.” Stela said.

A year ago, she would have told Duncan “good luck” and walked away without a second thought. His death would be his fault and that would be that. She’d be free. Free of him and this entire fucked-up family.

If I can locate him, you’ll probably need an army to take him out. If he’s responsible for the other three masks in that box, you’ll need help.” she said.

Where are you going to get it?






Offline Artur Woden

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Re: Fallen brethren bones
« Reply #6 on: Apr 07, 19, 05:01:55 AM »
"I'd intended it go differently," Duncan admitted. "You turned out more willful than I expected." Alexandru had done at least one thing right when he was raising Stela, he supposed; it didn't bother him to admit that. His brother hadn't died for his crimes against Stela, no, but for his crimes against the other children he'd abandoned, and even further back: for Tatiana. An injustice done to Stela by murdering her father didn't outweigh the right Duncan had to claim a price for his brother's disgusting, philandering ways. He arched a brow at her expression, at her tears. Nothing in this world came simple or free; surely Stela already knew that.

He looked back to the chip of Red. What did Wolf have to do with the others?... Duncan remembered seeing Kristiane, young and dark-haired, mismatched eyes keen as she sparred against a younger Umbral. How proud she'd been at the realization that she would be the new Myos Executioner, once her father died or was retired. "He won't return," he said. "He's been gone nearly ten years. No doubt he's well attached to his life away from the Guilds." Wolf should've just stayed gone, out of the reach of the Guilds. Even for a runaway Red, Artur wouldn't leave Dena Nehele. Keels would collapse the Territory without Artur handling the boring day-to-day details. "The end result is the same. He dies." He shrugged.

As for the plan, well, why would he tell Stela about it? Her role was done now. His glance at Stela was a probing one. Why was she continuing along this path? He'd estimated that she'd do the job, find the rest of the Red he'd given her, and then cut her losses and go. But her questions were thoughtful, and solid concerns, given the information she had. A Broken Prince was no match for a Red Warlord under ordinary circumstances, but a Red Prince against a Red Warlord... that wouldn't go too poorly. Especially if the Prince got the drop on the Warlord. Especially if the Warlord saw no reason to be concerned, if the Warlord thought everyone thought he was dead.

How much could he tell Stela without giving away more than he wanted to?

"He won't see me coming," he said. "You lived with me for five years and never cottoned on to the fact that I'm the Hegemon. Wolf was trained as a Myos, not as a spy; I have skills he doesn't. Losing my Jewels doesn't change that." He shrugged. "Regardless. Once I know where he is, I give the information to the Myos Executioner. It's more than my job's worth to try to take the Guilds' justice into my own hands, Stela. And the Price for a guilds member killing another is about as high as a Myos assassin abandoning his post."


Offline Stela Petrescu

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Re: Fallen brethren bones
« Reply #7 on: Apr 08, 19, 01:14:17 AM »
She let out a sharp bark of laughter when her uncle said that she’d turned out more willful than he expected. Stela wasn’t sure if she was laughing with him or at him. He’d killed her father for reasons that mattered only to him. Stela didn’t apologize for giving him trouble in her youth anymore than he would apologize for killing her father. Those things had happened. Stela learned long ago that Duncan would never see what he did to Alexandru as wrong or terrible.

It would smart for him to stay away, but people get nostalgic. They get emotional. You and I know that better than anyone. If he’s got any family or ties left in Dena Nehele, it’s always a possibility.” Stela said.

Duncan was right, though. Wolf wouldn’t see him coming...once he located him. But he had to do that first. Once did, though, he only had one chance at it. The slightest mistake would see him dead at the hands of a Red Jeweled Myos. That would be a messy, nasty way to die for anyone. Stela had never had to kill a friend before.

She hoped that she never had to.

Fair enough. You know better than I do what you need to defeat him.” Stela said. He’d killed many people over the years, she knew. He was also right in that he did not lose those skills because he lost his jewels. Either he would win or he wouldn’t. It was as simple as that.

What wasn’t as simple was the next steps for the two of them.

I meant what I said earlier, Uncle. I do not want to be just another agent. You sent me on this course, but I followed it and I’ve succeeded at every task handed to me thus far.” Stela said, looking him in the eye when he chose to turn his attention to her once again. She crossed her arms beneath her chest.

My Offering will happen this year. After that, I’ve been offered a position in a Moesian Court. There’s an opportunity to build strong influence with an up-and-coming Queen. Unless the Shaos has a foothold there already, I’m in a prime position to bring more information and contracts to the Guild.” she said.

I want to be your second. People want your attention and your favor. I want the same for myself someday.” Stela said.






Offline Artur Woden

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Re: Fallen brethren bones
« Reply #8 on: Apr 11, 19, 11:30:56 AM »
Duncan--no, not Duncan. The Hegemon knew that Stela thought she understood what she was asking. She wanted to be his second, a ballsy ask for a journeywoman and a ward of the Territory Court. There was a reason that Shaos were not encouraged to rise high in their secular careers; it limited their ability to move rather appallingly. "You're my niece," said the Hegemon. "That already makes you more than just another agent." Which was not his attempt to hedge, or to avoid the truth of her argument. She had, as she said, succeeded at every task handed to her so far, which indicated skill that ought to be cultivated. Not unlike Actuary, Arbiter had also managed to ingratiate herself into the Territory Court, giving him a second set of eyes on a side of the Triangle that he couldn't directly control without giving himself away. Theoretically, if Emil Veres ordered Jeremiah Mercer or Sebastian Bane to act, then they were compelled to do so. In practice? He preferred to leave his Jacks identity to rest. It felt alarmingly human compared to anything else.

She was talented, but... She was his niece, but...

"Have you considered, Stela, that there is a reason that I am nothing to anyone?" He leaned back on the pew, contemplating the altar. Damn, he hated these places. In a Territory like Dena Nehele, where the Priestesses held such power, it seemed like this one should be more trafficked. Instead, it was usually deserted. "The Hegemon, and the Hegemon's second, cannot be someone that people watch. My Red made me someone to look at, and your Descent Jewel will do the same. Opal or Sapphire, Priestesses at your Jewel rank are not common. Do you really think that no one would ever notice that the Dark-Jeweled Court Priestess of Neamt disappeared for a night? Or a week? Or a month?"

Yes. A test of devotion. How badly did she want to get close enough to kill him? How much did she want to see his blood on the floor? Enough to cripple her rise and forsake a position she clearly wanted? If she failed this test, he could continue on with Actuary or select another Shaos to succeed himself as the Hegemon in preparation for the day Keels finally died. "A Court Priestess attracts attention; people seek her attention and favor, though in a different way. Which kind do you want? You can't have both."


Offline Stela Petrescu

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Re: Fallen brethren bones
« Reply #9 on: Apr 11, 19, 03:08:37 PM »
Stela bit back a bitter laugh at Duncan’s acknowledgement of their relationship. Sometimes it felt like they both only pointed it out when they needed something from each other. Sharing his identity as the Hegemon was a measure of trust that she hadn’t expected from him. He could have kept it to himself; as he’d pointed out, she lived with him for five years and hadn’t pieced it together. Stela felt foolish over it, but she could have all over her angry recriminations later.

Her uncle placed a choice before her.

Even as he outlined the reasons that Duncan Petrescu was not an important man, Stela understood what he was saying. He’d forsaken nearly everything else in his life for the Guilds. The Hegemon was a boogeyman, a man you only learned about if you proved that you were more than just a promising recruit. Still, those who had even heard his name could dismiss him as a myth until they found him sitting in their home, or inviting them to speak, or locating them in the places they thought safest.

No one, including her, had cared what Duncan did with his free time.

She wouldn’t have that luxury as a High Priestess, especially if she wore a Dark Jewel. She’d be working with a young District Queen who would have eyes on her at all times, both from above and below. Stela’s absence could be explained away at times, as a Conclave matter or Court business. Too many, though, and people would wonder. Her career as a Shaos would suffer solely due to her position. It would take all of her focus just to ensure that she held up her end of duties to the Guild and to her sister.

Being the Hegemon’s Second would put her closer to what she always wanted. To kill him for what he’d done to her father, to Gabriella’s father. She would learn his secrets and his ways before sticking that knife into his cold, black heart as her Price for robbing her of her life and freedom.

But she had another choice.

He’d known without asking that she’d chosen Neamt. Then again, Oryon Rivers had not spent months in Bidea, whereas Gabriella had. He did not indicate any knowledge of Gabriella and that was good. So long as he thought she was just another Queen, that kept her outside of his notice. She was a Queen and safe from contracts, but nothing prevented a carefully orchestrated accident from occurring at the hands of some catspaw with little sense and great desperation.

"I'll focus my skills on serving the guild through the Conclave and Courts, then."

She inhaled. Two years ago, she would have accepted without question. But two years ago, there was no Gabriella. She’d lived like her uncle long enough. She didn’t have to die like him. Broken of his jewels and clinging to his temporal power to replace what he’d lost to the Decimation. Using his sister to justify murdering his brother. He’d decided her early life and shaped her current one.

She would decide her future.

You require someone capable of giving their full attention to the lessons you’re bound to teach. My presence within the Conclave and inside a new Court will provide more to the Guild in the longer term.” Stela said.

Gabriella needed her. That was enough.

If you’ll let me take that Red shard, I’ll find the Craft necessary to track it and confirm the location of its owner.” she said.






Offline Artur Woden

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Re: Fallen brethren bones
« Reply #10 on: Apr 14, 19, 03:38:51 AM »
The Hegemon was disappointed, some little bit. It was a shame that Stela had chosen her secular life over the Guilds, but he supposed... if it was a matter of the Bond, at least she'd been honest about it. And there was more than a little pride, there, too. Alexandru had frittered his life away on drugs and odd jobs that went nowhere, the odd and unfocused life of a Warlord Prince denied access to the Queen he claimed to love, though he'd left her to be broken on a monster's spear at the tender age of eight. Stela, at least, was doing better: she had a career, a future, and someone she cared about enough to follow her to the ass-end of nowhere. He doubted much of it had anything to do with him; he also doubted much of it had anything to do with Alexandru.

As he handed over the chip of Red Jewel, he decided there was something poetic about Wolf's reappearance. Kristiane, Nevermore, whatever she'd considered herself to be, had been Wolf's beloved child. She'd betrayed him in the end, as all things tended to go with the Guilds. If Wolf hadn't noticed, he wasn't half the assassin Artur knew him to be. Now Artur sat in the same situation: watching his back, waiting for a young woman he'd mentored to try to stab him.

What was it about Gabriella Robles? What made her so important to Stela that she would give up the chance to get close enough to him to kill him? Artur wasn't sorry for the loss of time, but he was curious. It'd always been a flaw of his.

Perhaps, he thought, he would pay Lady Robles a visit.

"Then there's nothing more to say," said Artur, rising from his seat. "You'll contact me before you undergo your Offering, of course? It would be unseemly for me to miss it."


Offline Stela Petrescu

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Re: Fallen brethren bones
« Reply #11 on: Apr 14, 19, 02:08:52 PM »
Something changed in that moment, between Stela and Duncan. She could not say what it was, only that she’d felt something shift. Had she revealed too much? Had she impressed upon him her desire to choose the life she wanted to lead? She was Shaos and she would remain Shaos. Whether or not Stela cared to acknowledge it (and she did not care to, not one bit) Duncan Petrescu had been more of a father to her than her own father ever was. No matter how tightly she clung to the memories of the times that Alexandru remained sober enough to listen to her play and offer honest criticism, they never chased away the memories of the times that she’d had to look after him during his drug-induced hazes or the amount of vomit she’d had to clean up.

The times she found him in his own shit and piss after he’d spent their food money on his latest bender were still burned into her mind.

I’ll change, Stela. We’re going to be okay, my little musician. I promise.

He wasn’t even sober the night he died.

She accepted the red shard. She’d have to find a way to locate the spell in question. Asking Amaranth would put her in danger and make her suspicious. She could probably get away with asking Asimov. The other Priestess had a hundred other concerns on her mind that would probably prevent her from looking too far into the question of why Stela needed to track down the owner of that Jewel. That settled it. She’d talk to Asimov and see how she was doing.

She turned to leave, but then Duncan asked about her Offering. She froze. He was right, though. He had to be there to support her or it would look strange. They were each other’s only family, as far as most people knew. Excluding him would invite questions.

Late Spring or Early Summer. The invitation list will be short. I don’t have many friends.” Stela said. Except that wasn’t true. She didn’t have any friends, really. The other Wards were various shades of acquaintances and she couldn’t really count the Banes as her friends when they were in two different social circles.

She couldn’t ask Gabriella to come all the way from Livada for it, either.

I’ll handle the arrangements for everything leading up to it. You’ll get the invitation two weeks before it happens.” Stela said.

She turned on her heel and left the space to him.

She had to get back before anyone missed her.

~Fin~






 

 

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